Ravens still need "24 to 48 hours" to decide on Week 18 starters

Baltimore Ravens v Washington Commanders
Baltimore Ravens v Washington Commanders / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens are in no need to rush any of their lineup decisions for their season-ending game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, and that's precisely how they are approaching the situation.

Speaking to the media on Monday, head coach John Harbaugh said that the staff of the Ravens will wait "24 to 48 hours" before making a final decision on their starting lineup for the meaningless matchup against the Steelers.

"I have not made a decision on any personnel yet," Harbaugh said Monday. "We gotta work through the injury part of it first, and it’ll take us 24 to 48 hours to get a real handle on that."

Of course, this all comes against the background of the Ravens having already clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC and thus earning a bye week during the first round of postseason games scheduled for later this month. The Ravens won't make their playoffs debut until Jan. 20 or Jan. 21.

Harbaugh's approach has a lot to do with the lessons learned from 2019, when the Ravens also secured the top AFC seed and opted to rest starters including quarterback Lamar Jackson in the regular-season finale. We all know that decision turned out to be...

...very wrong, to say the least. The Ravens proceeded to host a divisional-round game against the visiting Tennessee Titans and lost easily with the team, including Lamar, appearing rusty having enjoyed more time off than they probably should.

Harbaugh recalled that decision on Monday, stating "We did our best [in 2019]," and adding "The decisions we made, we made for the right reasons." That's out of the question, of course, and those decisions must have been informed ones, but still not the right calls.

The difference between now and then, however, comes down to how injury-ravaged the roster is currently following the win against Miami on Sunday.

Key players such as safety Kyle Hamilton and cornerback Marlon Humphrey are among those dealing with injuries and if the Ravens want to make a legitimate postseason run then they might be better off giving those guys as much rest as possible, even if that comes with the chance of getting rusty.

When it comes to starting or benching QB Lamar Jackson, if he is ultimately ruled out or simply kept on the sidelines, expect backup quarterback Tyler Huntley to start in place of the soon-to-be two-time MVP, as it already happened in years past and also last weekend.

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On the Steelers side, head coach Mike Tomlin already confirmed on Monday that Pittsburgh will keep Mason Rudolph as their starter for the regular-season finale at Baltimore, favoring the backup over franchise-quarterback Kenny Pickett (who already beat the Ravens in Week 5).

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